Updated: Tuesday, 31 Aug 2010, 6:29 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 30 Aug 2010, 10:03 PM EDT
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The expansion of the Fulton Street Farmers Market has been in the works since 2005, organizers say. But the Midtown Neighborhood Association has been taking feedback from vendors and the community to make the plan a reality.
An architect is hired and a rendering is complete; both will be unveiled Tuesday at a special ceremony set for 2:30 p.m. at the market.
The new design will maintain the single-lane format but add significant upgrades that will not only earn an environmentally friendly, green building LEED certification, but will make the facility accessible to people with disabilities.
Some of the biggest changes, organizers say, will allow the longtime market to serve its customers year round.
"It will be great for the business district," organizer Christine Helms-Maletic said. "People who come and shop at the farmers market will very often come and visit our neighborhood businesses. So, they're very excited about having that year-round activity go on."
Organizers insist the upgrades are not in response to the proposed multi-level urban market planned for downtown.
In fact, they said, instead of competing, the two facilities will complement one another and offer shoppers even more fresh, local choices.
Ken's Fruit Market in the Alger Heights neighborhood is a working example of the growing market-style trend.
Open for about three weeks, the owners brought the concept from their previous store in Ionia. Already, the now-urban customer flow is steady.
"People seem to love going to the local market and getting fresh, local produce," said Aaron Courts, the manager. "I think people love it, and I think there's room for it everywhere."
Customers can't get enough, they told 24 Hour News 8 on Monday.
"You're supporting local farmers," Joel Beltman said. "It creates more of a community feel. You kind of know where the food comes from. It's a great feeling to be a part of that, and help support it."
Although the market already has supporters and some financial backing, organizers also will discuss a major fundraising effort needed to make the plan a reality at Tuesday's event.